Pentagon downplays concerns that Nancy Pelosi could be shot down by China during Taiwan trip

On Tuesday, China said that any visit by Pelosi to Taiwan would be seen as "support" of "Taiwan independence" from China, and that Beijing would not "turn a blind eye" to it.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Ahead of a rumored visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, US officials are saying that they have little fear of an attack on the government official by China, despite the Chinese government vowing that the US would "bear the consequences" if she travels to the self-governing East Asian country.

According to the Daily Mail, officials say that if Pelosi does travel to Taiwan, US military forces would increase its movement of forces and assets in the Inso-Pacific region.

Officials refused to provide specifics, but said that if Pelosi were to travel to Taiwan, fighter jets, surveillance assets and other military systems, and the deployment of a multi-domain task force to provide overlapping rings of protection for her flight to Taiwan.

While foreign travel by senior US official would always require additional security, Pelosi’s Taiwan visit would require security precautions far beyond those required for trips to less risky destinations.

A visit from Pelosi to Taiwan would mark the highest ranking US elected official to visit since 1997. Pelosi was originally going to travel to Taiwan in April, but postponed the trip indefinitely after receiving a positive Covid-19 test.

Talks of increased security come as China warned that the US government "bear the consequences" if Pelosi travels to Taiwan. This threat comes just days after yet another threat that China would take "resolute and forceful measures" if the trip continues forward.

"If the US pushes ahead and challenges China's bottom line... the US side will bear all the consequences arising therefrom," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press conference.

On Tuesday, China said that any visit by Pelosi to Taiwan would be seen as "support" of "Taiwan independence" from China, and that Beijing would not "turn a blind eye" to it, according to the Daily Mail.

"As the No 3 leader of the US administration, if Pelosi insists on coming to Taiwan... it will inevitably cause extremely serious damage to ties between the Chinese and US governments, as well as the two militaries, leading to further escalation of tensions in the Taiwan Strait," China's defense ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said yesterday.

"The Chinese military will not turn a blind eye to it, and will respond by taking strong measures to thwart any external interference and "Taiwan independence" secessionist attempts, to resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Tan said.

Talks of Pelosi’s travel, though unscheduled at the moment, come as Biden is set to talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping over the phone on Thursday.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said the two leaders will talk about "everything from the tensions over Taiwan, to the war in Ukraine, as well as how we better manage competition between our two nations, certainly in the economic sphere."

"This is a call that has been scheduled for a long time and there's already a pretty robust agenda of things for these two leaders to talk about," he said.

While US officials have cast doubt about China taking direct action against Pelosi, they have not ruled out the possibility of China escalating provocative activities, like flyovers in or near Taiwanese airspace and naval patrols off the coast in the Taiwan Straight.

Security analysts list some Chinese show of force "gone awry, or some type of accident that comes out of a demonstration of provocative action" as the biggest risk against Pelosi, said Mark Cozad, acting associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corp.

"So it could be an air collision. It could be some sort of missile test, and, again, when you´re doing those types of things, you know, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong."

Ahead of this yet to be scheduled visit, Pelosi has reportedly extended the invitation to join to members of Congress, according to The Hill.

Earlier this month, China demanded that the US cancel its potential sale of over $100 million in military assistance to Taiwan.


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